To all professors, instructors and teachers at CSU:
How are you?
Well, enough with all this boring small talk. I'm poor. My friends are poor. Potential friends of mine who attend this university are poor. In fact, it would be safe to say that the vast majority of students here are, in fact, poor.
We're not out begging for money just yet, (although you could consider the lengthy scholarship application process just that), but many of us are feeling an increasingly tighter squeeze on wallets that are already thin. It may get to the point where some of us are forced to abandon Keystone Light for (gasp) generic supermarket beer! The lowest of the low, the swill of the stills, the crap in the can, is what awaits us now.
But there is a dim light at the end of this tunnel, as soaked in atrocious beer as it may be. I know that, as professors, you can't change tuition rates, or make housing more affordable, or force money to rain down from the sky like manna from a very well off heaven.
However, there is something you could do to save us from the depths of the most extreme poverty. Textbooks, assigned for virtually every course, are wickedly and hideously expensive. For reasons unbeknownst to me, it seems that if a book is required for a class, it has to cost at least as much as a minor organ or major amount of plasma.
I think you see where I'm going with this little rant. Textbooks can be a valuable resource (finals week), but it has always seemed to me that the vast majority of assigned readings contain material thoroughly covered in class. Besides, as professors, you know far better than some distant textbook author what you would really like to cover and you appropriately focus your lectures as such.
I understand that textbooks contain valuable glossaries, charts and in-depth diagrams that are not readily accessible in lectures and are vastly important in studying. Why not charge students a $5 to $10 fee and pass out the printed information you want us to have? Ask your students if they'd prefer to pay $10 for all the really vital paper resources in a class or pay $60 or more for a bulky, heavy and largely unused text.
Also, why do we have the valuable resource of webCT if not for the posting of required documents to be printed at the student's leisure and expense?
My point is that there are options out there, which would ease the students' annual monetary burden immensely and aid us in earning that coveted bachelor's degree in whatever. The alternatives are on the table. I ask every professor at this university: please, consider attempting to find a way to eliminate the need for incredibly costly textbooks in your classes. Joking aside, there are many of us here who do feel a real financial pinch at the start of every semester and have to scramble to find the hundreds of dollars needed for all of those books.
Just think about it, that's all I'm asking. College is expensive and becomes increasingly more so every day. Help us by saving us a substantial chunk of change and then we can keep more plasma inside our bodies, giving you a more attentive, excited and rosy-cheeked student body to instruct. Everybody wins but the textbook publishers and I think they've been winning on my dime for a bit too long.
Matt Hitt is a sophomore theatre major. His columns will run Mondays in the Collegian.